How paperless solutions make it easier for students to return to the classroom

Children on computers in a library.

By Chitra Mittha

Posted on 06-28-2021

This fall, millions of students will return to in-person classrooms across the country. But while this might seem like a long-awaited return to normal, the truth is that many aspects of in-person education will be different this year — and probably for some time to come. School administrators now face an unprecedented set of health and safety concerns, along with the burden of transitioning students back into conventional classrooms.

The good news is that digital tools can ease these burdens — in fact, they’ve already done so for many students. For example, the challenges of remote learning have brought technologies like video conferencing, cloud document sharing, and e-signatures into many students’ lives. Much of this same tech will prove equally valuable in these students’ transition back to in-person educational environments.

The following shows how digital tools are streamlining the transition back to conventional school environments — and you will learn why many of these technologies will remain equally crucial in a post-pandemic world.

The new realities of in-person education demand simpler paper-free processes

Since public institutions can’t legally require vaccinations, most kids will be returning to schools where vaccination percentages vary. As a result, many of those schools will be requiring parents to sign liability waivers. Digital document technology can greatly streamline the waiver-signing process, by enabling administrators to share forms via email, collect signatures electronically, and track the progress of each form from a centralized dashboard.

And digital waivers are just the beginning. Throughout the coming semesters, school administrators will need to track students’ health more closely than ever — and a paperless approach is making that task much easier. Instead of purchasing expensive health-record software, many schools are taking the simpler route of digitizing their existing student health paperwork, supporting a seamless transition to digital records.

Once a school’s health records have been digitized, they immediately become much more useful. They are easy to search, sort and tag from any digital screen — which means no more digging through clunky cabinets to find out which students have been vaccinated, or which ones have reported COVID-like symptoms in the past. What’s more, digital health records can be stored on password-protected servers, making them far more secure than paper files.

From admissions to health records, outdated paper-based processes simply do not measure up to the new realities of school safety. Healthy educational environments demand paperless document solutions — which not only help keep students safer, but can enhance their learning experiences, too.

Digital documents enhance in-person learning and maintain school safety.

Over the past 12 months, students have come to rely on video lessons and paperless assignments. Along the way, elementary educators have learned how strongly electronic content can engage young learners, while more than half of college students have come to prefer digital assignments to paper ones. That means digital tech will remain central to education even after we have beaten COVID-19.

In fact, digital tools can help smooth the return to in-person schools in a wide variety of ways. For example, paperless worksheets can preserve a sense of continuity for students who have gotten used to working on small screens. Interactive content on larger screens, meanwhile, can provide more engaging visuals for lesson presentations, while the latest scanning technology can use an ordinary phone camera to convert handwritten work into shareable PDFs.

Digital worksheets are also more secure than paper ones (which anyone can sneak a peek at), plus they never get smudged or torn. But by making it simple for students to save their work digitally, technology like Adobe Acrobat does more than just prevent lost homework. It helps keep assignments safe and contactless — providing peace of mind even in classrooms where students share close physical quarters.

That peace of mind will be especially crucial in the coming months, as schools support millions of students who have experienced a year of unprecedented educational disruption, confusion and stress.

Paperless processes help reduce burdens on students.

For many students, physical illness is just one of the threats posed by COVID-19. Throughout the past year, the pandemic has disrupted social gatherings, friend groups, and entire ways of life — resulting in heightened anxiety and depression for 38 percent of K-12 students and 80 percent of college students nationwide.

Although a return to semi-normal socializing will ease some of this anxiety, it may create further stress for the many students who have fallen behind their peers in reading and math, and will be heading into individualized education programs (IEPs) this fall. One way to smooth a student’s transition to IEPs is to digitize the process with pre-filled paperless IEP forms. Parents and staff can sign these forms in just minutes — bringing each student one step closer to catching up.

What’s true for IEPs applies equally to all paper forms that create unnecessary stress. Acceptable use agreements often consist of multi-form paper packets, which can easily be turned into digital docs that parents can sign from any touchscreen device. At the university level, students can fill out add/drop slips as digital forms — avoiding a whole string of time-consuming office visits when a one-click signature works just as well.

In fact, even after the pandemic has passed, digital documents will continue to reduce paper-related burdens on students. For example, administrators at California State University, Fullerton have switched to a completely paperless ID card system, saving them countless hours processing new cards and replacing lost ones — not to mention the costs of materials and printing. That single innovation will keep paying dividends for years to come, long after COVID has ceased to pose a threat.

To learn more about how digital documents can help your institution’s students save time, reduce stress and experience a healthier learning environment, visit Adobe’s Education Resource Hub, where you can see our technology in action.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Insights & Inspiration, Education, Document Cloud,

Products: Document Cloud, Acrobat, Scan, Sign,